Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

The Slippery Slope

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

And, so, Roku it is. Fifty bucks for the Roku 1 (I needed analog sound out as I am using a retired PC monitor and not a TV), a few trips up and down the stairs to input things on my PC, and I’m watching much better-than-expected video (with the puzzling exception of HBO Now, which has an alarming lack of black level and, surprisingly, the worst interface of them all considering it is also the most expensive of the streaming channels) and hearing terrific audio in my family room, making me wonder what on earth I’d been thinking all these years. I’m now binge-watching Larry David’s hysterical Curb Your Enthusiasm while sipping True Detective Season One like fine tea.

The New Republic’s David Thomson wrote, “True Detective has the aggressive casualness and dense texture of a novel by a writer who doesn’t care if he’s only ever going to be mid-list,” which also aptly sums up my own prose writing. The difference between commercial writing and writing for yourself is exactly that. I suspect the key to becoming a good novelist is to differentiate between being good and being successful; stop worrying so much about whether or not you are or will become successful, and concentrate on being good (or, failing that, at least enjoying yourself). (more…)

Apple TV

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Craig wrote:

“I never got a Blu-ray player, but jumped on the Apple TV bandwagon pretty early and get my HD movies that way.”

Here in my cave, I’m only dimly aware of Apple TV, but a friend recently sung its praises. Better/worse than Chromecast, Roku, etc? I pulled the plug on cable/satellite about five years ago, now, and have grown so used to *not* watching TV that I am now like unto one of those obnoxious recovering alcoholic-types. I mean, we celebrate their sobriety, we really do, but I’ve had *crack fiends* come out of rehab and become obnoxious bores telling me what’s wrong with my life and how to fix it. I am that way about commercial television.

It’s not a religious thing, I’m not trying to preach to you, but I find it disturbing that, for all of its wide-ranging supposed inclusiveness, my visceral sense is at least 90% of what’s available on the Boob Tube denies God, which offends me. Now, wait, don’t click away, here’s what I mean: I don;t need or want every TV show to shake the hand of Christ. I loved House of Cards (which I saw on disc, as I see most TV). What I’m saying is, don’t be so freaking openly hostile, in every frame of every show, to who I am as an individual. (more…)

Def Jammed

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Someone gave me a Blu-Ray player and I am, frankly, reluctant to install it. When I was over friends’ homes watching movies on Blu-Ray, they just seemed… bad… to me. They didn’t look like film. Everything looked like it was shot on videotape, and *bad* videotape like 1970’s soap operas: just a little *too* lifelike and surreal.

This worries me because the industry is, of course, forcing us to use this technology (and, inevitably, 4k), but, to me, my upscaled “normal” DVD’s look a lot better and more film-like.

Is this normal? Is there some adjustment period I need to go through or is this actually what people are enjoying these days, films that look like bad 1970’s soap operas where everything seems to be made out of plastic? What am I missing? (more…)

The Blue Van

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

So I bought Season One of the 1966 Batman TV series, and I’ve been gleefully reliving my childhood binge-watching a show I haven’t seen in a couple of decades. The first season was brilliant. I’ve read the producers or the network believed it was a bit too dark and lightened it up for Season Two which, I believe, cost them their adult audience by pandering to the kids and thereby killed the show.

Season Three was the flailing of a dying man, even sillier than Season Two, the network geniuses not understanding why Season One was such a hit: its pitch-perfect balance between the absurd and the (preadolescent) entertaining captured in perfect tone in the pilot, “Hey Riddle Diddle.” That show gave me nightmares as a kid when the Riddler set the Batmobile on fire and then threatened Robin with a scalpel and a head vise, while being laugh-out-loud funny when Batman enters a discotech, preferring to stand at the bar because, “I wouldn’t want to attract undue attention.”

I’m only now really appreciating how brilliant the show was, and how either the network or the studio killed their own golden goose by not truly understanding how delicate the formula was or how vitally important the balance was to maintain. Other things I’ve discovered:

Guest Review: Daredevil Netflix series

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Priest asked me to put a couple of my “other-media” reviews up here as separate threads, so here’s the first:

Daredevil the series: Marvel/Netflix – Normally, I’d just wait for this to hit DVD, because I dislike watching streaming video for more than a few minutes at a time if I can avoid it.  But a friend sent me copies which I burned to DVD and watched on my TV anyway.  (I’ll still be buying the pro copies when they come out.)  Unlike what seems to be almost everyone else, I didn’t binge-watch it, so I’ve only gotten about halfway through the series so far.
What I’ve seen, I like.  The series is clearly set in the MCU, but has plausible reasons for not involving the fantastic (and expensive to film) stuff.  They even downplay the radar sense, primarily indicating it via sound effects and just leaving it as a given that Daredevil can somehow “see” without trying to get inside his POV like the Affleck movie did.  A good choice, really.  Avoiding looking cheap when translating something like that to live action is VERY hard, so they save it for rare occasions.
This season (S2 has already been greenlit) is basically an 11 hour (episodes usually around 50 minutes not counting credits) origin story for Daredevil and several of his supporting cast and villains.  This lets them avoid the kind of bare-bones shorthand seen in 90-120 minute big screen movies, develop some emotional content here and there, and still get in enough action and arc plot to satisfy.  There’s a few places where it feels like they didn’t QUITE have enough content to fill the 11 hours, and maybe the story could have been told just as well in 8-10 episodes, but it’s definitely better than they’re likely to have gotten with a 2 hour movie.

Recommended, currently on Netflix, but will eventually be on DVD.


Since posting that, I’ve watched a couple more episodes, including the very good Kingpin focus ep, which does a very good job of dealing with the “inevitable couple” problem that so many superhero shows founder on (i.e. spending a season or more pretending that Barry and Iris or Ollie and Laurel or Jim and Barbara won’t end up together), while still providing drama and uncertainty.